I feel like a broken record on this topic of compassion and balancing it with healthy boundaries, but a recent documentary I watched by Deeyah Khan reminded me of the importance of it. The way she is able to press extremists to answer hard questions, whether they are white nationalists or extremists from her own community, is unbelievable (in a good way). She does it in a way where she still addresses the fallacies of their ideologies, but still manages to remain civil and respectful. Watching this, I realize just how little patience I have. And really, I understood there just how much compassion I still need to cultivate.
Anyone who knows me understands that I am far from perfect, and some of my occasional impatience with certain types sometimes stem from the fact I used to be those types. When at a time I criticized women who are eager to speak of how awful other women are, and how they are full of drama (the irony does not evade me), I know I used to be one of them. Since then, I have tried to work against this tendency of society to pit women against each other. And there are many things I have to work on yet beyond this.
It is hard for me to deal with nationalists who border on fascism. Their ideas of how the United States should be means people like myself would have to leave, or die. Suffice to say, it is neither the first nor last time I had known sorts that believe I do not belong in a place where I was born. There is no way they will be happy until this is satisfied. Somehow, though, Deeyah is able to stomach being in a room with a neo-Nazi, someone who would see her or someone like myself barred from being in this country. Some may think it unusual for me, but I admire her ability to do that and wish I had cultivated the same level of patience and empathy. Mentally, I am aware many people who fall into extremist ideologies are scared and do not want to admit it, or may not realize how much they are becoming like the bad guys during World War II. Yet I also have been working hard to make sure I do not let people like this bully me or make me feel less significant.
And in the midst of it all, I cannot help but feel I did not have much compassion to start. I have nothing but anger for how I used to be, and how some people still are. It is like I have a need to make amends for being more a part of all the things wrong with this society. The way I am now is not how I used to be, which is over all good. Still, I cannot help but feel guilt for what once was.
Some of the things I have done included lashing out in response to post-traumatic stress triggers, acted on abandonment issues, and I had not spoken up when a wrong was ongoing when I should have. I have acted on hypervigilance with friends, and, though unintentionally, I had hurt people as a result. There had been times I tried to do the right thing, which I can honestly say I always try to do, but I did not act optimally or even do the best. At a time, I was approximating myself to power and denouncing the need for fighting against inequalities, pretending it was no longer needed. When younger, I was not the easiest youth to raise, and disagreements between my mother and I became more unpleasant than healthy. While I have done my part to reconcile with as many I have wronged as possible from my past actions, making amends when given opportunity, I still have not fully forgiven myself.
So I will be the first to admit that my own path to try doing better, to be the change I want to see in the world, did not start until a little later. I could say it started sooner, but if so, it surely was not a progressive start. Therapists have told me I need to build more compassion and patience for myself, but it is not an easy road when I know I am just as much part of this turbulent world as anyone else. At a time, I was really part of the issues with this world.
I hope one day, I can have at least half the compassion, patience, and empathy Deeyah Khan has. I know I would be a better person for it. At the moment, though, I know where my limitations are. One day, I might know how to truly strike the balance between showing such qualities while keeping good boundaries with others.